Life is full of transitions. This truth confronts me more and more as I watch my own children learn and grow. We once had two toddlers, and now our oldest daughter is in middle school. That's craziness, and I hear it just keeps getting crazier.
It also confronts me as I watch our faith community change and grow. Ministry teams have formed, people are taking on leadership roles, and contributing creative ideas, gifts and resources. It's a beautiful thing, but like watching my own children grow, it's also a scary thing. We find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, facing difficult decisions, discerning the way together; and, it's not easy.
In Unexpected Gifts, Christopher Heurtz explores the challenges and gifts of being part of community. His experience is that for each tension that a community faces, there is a subsequent gift on the other side. He claims that transitions handled well lead to stability. He writes,
Transitions have something addictive about them, something sexy. There's something profoundly interesting about "what's next." Transitions are an inevitable part of community, but how they are handled has as much power over the sustainability of a community as just about anything else.
Although he focuses on the transition experienced from members leaving a community, I think this same idea applies to any change in a community's life together. In the midst of change, we can choose to become anxious and isolated from one another, or we can deal honestly with the challenges before us. If we are honest, we will acknowledge the fear, tension, and disappointment that can surface during times of change. None of us handle things perfectly, we all make mistakes and we all have room for growth. Transitions often land us where we've never been before; however, they can also provide us the opportunity for growth and a re-fining of our identity as a community of faith.
What challenges have you faced during times of transition?
And, what gifts have been waiting on the other side?